Best Tool Gifts of 2021
Top tools and outdoor power gear for the handy people in your life
It can be daunting to buy a tool as a gift for someone who really knows their way around a workshop or garage. We’re here to help.
Consumer Reports has spent thousands of hours testing hundreds of tools, including cordless drills and string trimmers. And we have some great choices from our tests that won’t break the bank.
Here, we highlight some of the best tool gifts you can buy right now, with an emphasis on those that blend solid performance, unique features, and value.
For anyone who loves to cut firewood or the occasional tree or limb, a chainsaw is a must. This Ryobi is a solid bet as a gift. It costs about half of what you’d pay for similar models from other brands, and it gets our top rating of Excellent for its solid safety features. It has metal bucking spikes, a chain brake, a protective case, and a protective sheath for the blade.
18-Volt Cordless Drill
A cordless drill is the most crucial tool for any weekend warrior because you’ll need it for everything from building bookcases to hanging cabinets. We haven’t seen a better drill than this 18-volt model from Milwaukee. It's exceptionally powerful and comes with two 4.0-amp-hour batteries, which means it can run a long time—enough to drive about 400 screws. Those batteries can also be used to power any 18-volt tool Milwaukee makes. That list has grown to more than 100 models, including circular saws, impact drivers, and work lights.
12-Volt Cordless Drill
Even though they’re smaller, in the past decade 12-volt cordless drills have become exponentially better, largely driven by improvements in lithium-ion batteries. This slim, pistol-gripped tool from Ridgid is plenty capable, with the strength to hang cabinets, build a bookcase, or mount a TV to a wall. And at just 2.6 pounds, it’s about half the weight of some of the brawnier 18- or 20-volt drills. This model is a Home Depot exclusive and one of the best values in its category.
Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
For years, battery-powered mowers were anything but powerful. This Ego battery-powered push mower is the first we've tested that offers performance that’s on a par with gas models. It can cut up to about a half-acre of grass on a single charge, and better still, the price has dropped by about $200 since we first tested it several years ago.
Zero-Turn-Radius Riding Lawn Mower
John Deere Z345R-42
This 22-hp zero-turn riding mower from John Deere is the biggest splurge on our list. It has a top cutting speed of 7 mph, and it will handle nimbly around any property and cut beautifully, too. Wrapped in a big red ribbon, it’s a pretty great gift for someone with a sizable yard.
Backpack Leaf Blower
Backpack leaf blowers like this model from Husqvarna are a nice step up from handheld blowers because the weight is distributed to your back, so your arms don’t get tired when working in a larger yard.
Electric Pressure Washer
This Greenworks electric pressure washer is a reasonably priced tool that’s every bit as effective at cleaning up a salt-covered car in winter as it is powering through crud on a deck or walkway come spring. It’s cheaper than many of the models in our ratings and cleans better than some gas-powered models, too.
Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower
Ariens Crossover 20
This Ariens two-stage gas snow blower hits the sweet spot as a gift. It’s a third of the price of machines in our tests that don’t clear snow nearly as well. Plus it has multiple clearing speeds, an electric start, and a headlight, all nice features to find at this price.
Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower
Briggs & Stratton 1696737 Snow Blower
If you don’t live in a region with heavy snow, this single-stage gas snow blower from Briggs & Stratton is an excellent value. It’s among the cheapest models of its kind but still packs a punch, helping it clear snow up to 9 inches deep in a single pass. This model has an electric start and a single headlight.
Gas String Trimmer
This Troy-Bilt straight-shaft string trimmer is about half the price of competitive models, and it tackles tall grass and weeds with ease. It also turns in solid performance at trimming and edging along a patio or walkway.